Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

How in the end the Judgment dread
Shall by the Lord thy God be said, —
While brightly in a City of Rest
Shall flash the fountains of the Blest,
And gladdening around the Throne
All mortal men shall smile, — save one. . . .
Children of Earth, hear, last and first,
The Vision of the Man Accurst.

Judgment was over; all the world redeem'd
Save one Man, — who had sinned all sins, whose soul
Was blackness and foul odour. Last of all,
When all was lamb-white, through the summer Sea
Of ministering Spirits he was drifted
On to the white sands; there he lay and writhed,
Worm-like, black, venomous, with eyes accurst
Looking defiance, dazzled by the light
That gleam'd upon his clench'd and bloodstain'd hands;
While, with a voice low as a funeral bell,
The Seraph, sickening, read the sable scroll,
And as he read the Spirits ministrant
Darken'd and murmur'd, 'Cast him forth, O Lord!'
And, from the Shrine where unbeheld He broods,
The Lord said, ''Tis the basest mortal born —
Cast him beyond the Gate!'

    The wild thing laugh'd
Defiant, as from wave to wave of light
He drifted, till he swept beyond the Gate,
Past the pale Seraph with the silvern eyes;
And there the wild Wind, that for ever beats
About the edge of brightness, caught him up,
And, like a straw, whirl'd round and lifted him,
And on a dark shore in the Underworld
Cast him, alone and shivering; for the Clime
Was sunless, and the ice was like a sheet
Of glistening tin, and the faint glimmering peaks
Were twisted to fantastic forms of frost,
And everywhere the frozen moonlight steam'd
Foggy and blue, save where the abysses loom'd
Sepulchral shadow. But the Man arose,
With teeth gnash'd beast-like, waved wild feeble hands
At the white Gate (that glimmer'd far away,
Like to the round ball of the Sun beheld
Through interstices in a wood of pine),
Cast a shrill curse at the pale Judge within
Then groaning, beast-like crouch'd.

    Like golden waves
That break on a green island of the south,
Amid the flash of many plumaged wings,
Passed the fair days in Heaven. By the side
Of quiet waters perfect Spirits walked,
Low singing, in the star-dew, full of joy
In their own thoughts and pictures of those thoughts
Flash'd into eyes that loved them; while beside them,
After exceeding storm, the Waters of Life
With soft sea-sound subsided. Then God said,
''Tis finished — all is well!' But as He spake
A voice, from out the lonely Deep beneath,
Mock'd!

    Then to the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes
For ever, God cried, 'What is he that mocks?'
The Seraph answered, ''Tis the Man accurst!'
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask'd, 'What doth the Man?'

    The Seraph said:
'Upon a desolate peak, with hoar-frost hung,
Amid the steaming vapours of the Moon,
He sitteth on a throne, and hideously
Playeth at judgment; at his feet, with eyes
Slimy and luminous, squats a monstrous Toad;
Above his head pale phantoms of the Stars
Fulfil cold ministrations of the Void,
And in their dim and melancholy lustre
His shadow, and the shadow of the Toad
Beneath him, linger. Sceptred, thron'd, and crown'd,
The foul judgeth the foul, and sitting grim,
Laughs!'

    With a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said, 'Look no more!'

            The Waters of Life
Broke with a gentle sea-sound gladdening —
God turn'd and blest them; as He blest the same,
A voice from out the lonely Void beneath,
Shriek'd!

        Then to the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes
For ever, God cried, 'What is he that shrieks?'
The Seraph answered, ''Tis the Man accurst!'
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask'd, 'What doth the Man?'

            The Seraph said:
'Around him the wild phantasms of the fog
Moan in the rheumy hoar-frost and cold steam.
Long time, crown'd, sceptred, on his throne he sits
Playing at judgment; then with shrill voice cries —
"'Tis finished, thou art judged!" and, fiercely laughing,
He thrusteth down an iron heel to crush
The foul Toad, that with dim and luminous eyes
So stareth at his Soul. Thrice doth he lift
His foot up fiercely — lo! he shrinks and cowers —
Then, with a wild glare at the far-off Gate,
Rushes away, and, rushing through the dark,
Shrieks!'

    With a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said, 'Look no more!'

            The Waters of Life,
The living, spiritual Waters, broke,
Fountain-like, up against the Master's Breast,
Giving and taking blessing. Overhead
Gather'd the shining legions of the Stars,
Led by the ethereal Moon, with dewy eyes
Of lustre: these have been baptised in fire,
Their raiment is of molten diamond,
And 'tis their office, as they circling move
In their blue orbits, evermore to turn
Their faces heavenward, drinking peace and strength
From that great Flame which, in the core of Heaven,
Like to the white heart of a violet burns,
Diffusing rays and odour. Blessing all,
God sought their beauteous orbits, and behold!
The Eyes innumerably glistening
Were turned away from Heaven, and with sick stare,
Like the blue gleam of salt dissolved in fire,
They searched the Void, as human faces look
On horror.

        To the Seraph at the Gate,
Who looketh on the Deep with steadfast eyes,
God cried, 'What is this thing whereon they gaze?'
The Seraph answered, 'On the Man accurst.'
And, with a voice of most exceeding peace,
God ask'd, 'What doth the Man?'

        The Seraph said:
'O Master! send Thou forth a tongue of fire
To wither up this worm! Serene and cold,
Flooded with moon-dew, lies the World, and there
The Man roams; and the image of the Man
In the wan waters of the frosty sphere
Falleth gigantic. Up and down he drifts,
Worm-like, black, venomous, with eyes accursed,
Waving his bloody hands in fierce appeal,
So that the gracious faces of Thy Stars
Are troubled, and the stainless tides of light
Shadow pollution. With wild, ape-like eyes,
The wild thing whining peers through horrent hair,
And rusheth up and down, seeking to find
A face to look upon, a hand to touch,
A heart that beats; but all the World is void
And beauteous. All alone in the Cold Clime,
Alone within the lonely universe,
Crawleth the Man accurst!'

            Then said the Lord,
'Doth he repent?' And the fair Seraph said,
'Nay he blasphemeth! Send Thou forth Thy fire!'
But with a voice of most exceeding peace,
Out of the Shrine where unbeheld He broods,
God said, 'What I have made, a living Soul,
Cannot he unmade, but endures for ever.'
Then added, 'Call the Man!'

            The Seraph heard,
And in a low voice named the lost one's name;
The wild Wind that for ever beats the Gate
Caught up the word, and fled through the cold Void.
'Twas murmur'd on, as a lorn echo fading,
From peak to peak. Swift as a wolf the Man
Was rushing o'er a waste, with shadow streaming
Backward against a frosty gleaming wind,
When like a fearful whisper in his ear
'Twas wafted; then his blanch'd lips shook like leaves
In that chill wind, his hair was lifted up,
He paused, his shadow paused, like stone and shadow,
And shivering, glaring round him, the Man moaned,
'Who calls?' and in a moment he was 'ware
Of the white light streaming from the far Gate,
And looming, blotted black against the light,
The Seraph with uplifted forefinger,
Naming his name!

            And ere the Man could fly,
The wild Wind in its circuit swept upon him,
And, like a straw, whirled him and lifted him,
And cast him at the Gate, — a bloody thing —
Mad, moaning, horrible, obscene, unclean;
A body swollen and stainĪd like the wool
Of sheep that in the rainy season crawl
About the hills, and sleep on foul damp beds
Of bracken rusting red. There, breathing hard,
Glaring with fiery eyes, panted the Man,
With scorch'd lips drooping, thirsting as he heard
The flowing of the Fountains far within.

    Then said the Lord, 'Is the Man there?' and 'Yea,'
Answered the Seraph pale. Then said the Lord,
'What doth the Man?' The Seraph, frowning, said:
'O Master, in the belly of him is fire,
He thirsteth, fiercely thrusting out his hands,
And threateneth, seeking water!' Then the Lord
Said, 'Give him water — let him drink!'

            The Seraph,
Stooping above him, with forefinger bright
Touched the gold kerbstone of the Gate, and lo!
Water gush'd forth and gleamed; and lying prone
The Man crawl'd thither, dipt his fever'd face,
Drank long and deeply; then, his thirst appeased,
Thrust in his bloody hands unto the wrist,
And let the gleaming Fountain play upon them,
And looking up out of his dripping hair,
Grinned mockery at the giver.

            Then the Lord
Said low, 'How doth the Man?' The Seraph said:
'It is a snake! He mocketh all Thy gifts,
And in a snake's voice half-articulate,
Blasphemeth!' Then the Lord: 'Doth the Man crave
To enter in?' 'Not so,' the Seraph said,
'He saith — — ' 'What saith he?' 'That his Soul is filled
With hate of Thee and of Thy ways; he loathes
Pure pathways where the fruitage of the Stars
Hangeth resplendent, and he spitteth hate
On all Thy Children. Send Thou forth Thy fire!
In no wise is he better than the beasts,
The gentle beasts, that come like morning dew
And vanish. Let him die!' Then said the Lord:
'What I have made endures; but 'tis not meet
This thing should cross my perfect work for ever.
Let him begone!' Then cried the Seraph pale:
'O Master! at the frozen Clime he glares
In awe, shrieking at Thee!' 'What doth he crave?'
'Neither Thy Heaven nor by Thy holy ways.
He murmureth out he is content to dwell
In the Cold Clime for ever, so Thou sendest
A face to look upon, a heart that beats,
A hand to touch — albeit like himself,
Black, venomous, unblest, exiled, and base:
Give him this thing, he will be very still,
Nor trouble Thee again.'

            The Lord mused.

                Still,
Scarce audible trembled the Waters of Life —
Over all Heaven the Snow of the same Thought
Which rose within the Spirit of the Lord
Fell hushedly; the innumerable Eyes
Swam in a lustrous dream.

            Then said the Lord:
'In all the waste of worlds there dwelleth not
Another like himself — behold he is
The basest Mortal born. Yet 'tis not meet
His cruel cry, for ever piteous,
Should trouble my eternal Sabbath-day.
Is there a Spirit here, a human thing,
Will pass this day from the Gate Beautiful
To share the exile of this Man accurst, —
That he may cease the shrill pain of his cry,
And I have peace?'

                    Hushedly, hushedly,
Snow'd down the Thought Divine — the living Waters
Murmured and darkened. But like mournful mist
That hovers o'er an autumn pool, two Shapes,
Beautiful, human, glided to the Gate
And waited.

                'What art thou?'in a stern voice
The Seraph said, with dreadful forefinger
Pointing to one. A gentle voice replied,
'I will go forth with him whom ye call curst!
He grew within my womb — my milk was white
Upon his lips. I will go forth with him!'
'And thou?' the Seraph said. The second Shape
Answered, 'I also will go forth with him;
I have kist his lips, I have lain upon his breast,
I bare him children, and I closed his eyes;
I will go forth with him!'

            Then said the Lord,
'What Shapes are these who speak?' The Seraph answered:
'The woman who bore him and the wife he wed —
The one he slew in anger — the other he stript,
With ravenous claws, of raiment and of food.'
Then said the Lord, 'Doth the Man hear?' 'He hears,'
Answer'd the Seraph; 'like a wolf he lies,
Venomous, bloody, dark, a thing accurst,
And hearkeneth, with no sign!' Then said the Lord:
'Show them the Man,' and the pale Seraph cried,
'Behold!'

        Hushedly, hushedly, hushedly,
In heaven fell the Snow of Thought Divine,
Gleaming upon the Waters of Life beneath,
And melting, — as with slow and lingering pace,
The Shapes stole forth into the windy cold,
And saw the thing that lay and throbbed and lived,
And stooped above him. Then one reach'd a hand
And touch'd him, and the fierce thing shrank and spat,
Hiding his face.

        'Have they beheld the Man?'
The Lord said; and the Seraph answer'd 'Yea;'
And the Lord said again, 'What doth the Man?'

'He lieth like a log in the wild blast,
And as he lieth, lo! one sitting takes
His head into her lap, and moans his name,
And smoothes his matted hair from off his brow,
And croons in a low voice a cradle song;
And lo! the other kneeleth at his side,
Half-shrinking in the old habit of her fear,
Yet hungering with her eyes, and passionately
Kissing his bloody hands.'

            Then said the Lord,
'Will they go forth with him?' A voice replied,
'He grew within my womb — my milk was white
Upon his lips. I will go forth with him!'
And a voice cried, 'I will go forth with him;
I have kist his lips, I have lain upon his breast,
I bare him children, and I closed his eyes;
I will go forth with him!'

                Still hushedly
Snowed down the Thought Divine, the Waters of Life
Flow'd softly, sadly; for an alien sound,
A piteous human cry, a sob forlorn
Thrill'd to the heart of Heaven.

    The Man wept.

    And in a voice of most exceeding peace
The Lord said (while against the Breast Divine
The Waters of Life leapt, gleaming, gladdening):
'The Man is saved; let the Man enter in!'

(From 'Songs Of Corruption' from The Book of Orm, 1870.)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 27 September 2002